The Elements – A Personal Project
About this time last year, I had the idea to depict the four classic elements photographically. My first thought was to use actual images of fire, water, earth, and air, arrange them somehow creatively, maybe do some interesting post-processing.
After thinking about it briefly, I decided it would be interesting, but it would not be all that compelling. Other than placing them together in some arrangement, there would be nothing visually tying them to one another. And, it would not be much of a stretch for me. Working on a personal project should stretch my creativity and my skills.
Instead, I had this crazy idea to use human subjects and light to evoke the elements without explicity showing them. It would be abstract and force me to think and create.
In time, I started sketching forms on paper. Some came to me easier than others. I think Fire was the first one. Air stumped me for a while. Not surprising since air is itself, not visual. But I had some decent ideas, I thought.
Then, I stashed away my sketches and moved on with the many things that life has presented over the past year. In the back of my mind, I still had this project mulling around. Would I ever get off my duff and move it forward?
At some point, I decided having dancers as my models would be ideal. Dancers are used to creating images with their bodies and movement and would be more likely to hold the positions I wanted while I stumble around with my gear. Fortunately, Lynne and I know some dancers from our association with the theatre.
This summer, I finally started putting out feelers. Would you be interested in modeling for me for this crazy project I’m doing? Who do you know who could help? I had two dancers, Missy and Morgan, who were interested right away. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to make the date I eventually set. They would have been great – and I may ask them again if I decide to do something like this in the future.
I knew some of the dancers would be leaving for college, so I bit the bullet and set a date. It was going to actually happen! I pulled out my sketches and redrew them, this time planning out the lighting in more detail. On the day of the shoot, I had Tony Carlson, Ben Parrish, Julie Benirschke, Katie House, and Britta Logdahl. The were a terrific group to work with.
After the shoot, it was time to complete the images in Photoshop. I wanted to use the models and the lighting as I shot it and just expand on those elements. I refrained from doing too much in post. In the end, I wanted the focus to be my beautiful subjects and their forms.
I feel good with the outcome. It was a lot of fun from the early planning to the final edits. Photography is a wonderful art with so many opportunities to create.